The fierce government assaults from the air are partly a response to improved tactics and weaponry among the opposition forces, which have recently received more powerful antitank missiles from Turkey, with the financial support of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, according to members of the Syrian National Council, the main opposition group in exile, and other activists.
The United States, these activists said, was consulted about these weapons transfers. Officials in Washington said the United States did not take part in arms shipments to the rebels, though they recognized that Syria’s neighbors would do so, and that it was important to ensure that weapons did not end up in the hands of Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups.
Speaking in Istanbul, council members also described efforts to supply the opposition with arms, specifically antitank weaponry delivered by Turkish Army vehicles to the Syrian border, where it was then transferred to smugglers who took it into Syria.
Turkey has repeatedly denied that it is giving anything other than humanitarian aid to the opposition, mostly at refugee camps near the border. It has recently made those camps harder to visit: permission was not granted to two reporters in the vicinity for five days last week. Turkey did not act alone, but with financial support from Qatar and Saudi Arabia and after consultation with the United States, said these officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the subject’s diplomatic delicacy.
Photo: Rebel fighters with the Free Syrian Army at a house in Aleppo. On the left, 6 50.00 FN FAL can be seen. (Associated Press)